Responses to Proposition 8
The passage of Proposition 8 (November, 2008) in California, which overthrew the right to same-sex marriage, stunned the gay community in the state. There was an immediate backlash against the Mormon Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), whose members were active in promoting the proposition. Although Mormons are a small minority in the State of California, although most Christian churches joined the campaign, and although a huge majority of Blacks and Latinos voted in favor, the Mormon Church has taken the brunt of the wrath of the gay community. Not all action or sentiment toward the Church has been negative, however. This article reports a few of the favorable reactions and support that the Mormon Church has received.
- 1 Legislating Immorality
- 2 An article by Rabbi Nachum Shifren
- 3 Mormon Appreciation Day
- 4 A California Catholic Bishop's Response
- 5 An Ugly Attack on Mormons
- 6 LDS Church's Response to New York Times Ad
- 7 LDS Church's Response to the Ruling that Prop 8 is Unconstitutional
- 8 The Prop 8 Appeals Process
- 9 External Links
By the Editors on National Review Online November 2008
Last week in a Denver suburb, someone lit a Book of Mormon on fire and dropped it on the doorstep of a Mormon temple, presumably as a statement about the church's support of Proposition 8 in California, an initiative that amended the state constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman. In a move that may make gay-rights supporters' heads spin, the incident is being investigated as a hate crime.
The outbreak of attacks on the Mormon church since the passage of Proposition 8 has been chilling: envelopes full of suspicious white powder were sent to church headquarters in Salt Lake City; protesters showed up en masse to intimidate Mormon small-business owners who supported the measure; a website was created to identify and shame members of the church who backed it; activists are targeting the relatives of prominent Mormons who gave money to pass it, as well as other Mormons who are only tangentially associated with the cause; some have even called for a boycott of the entire state of Utah.
The wisdom of hate-crimes legislation aside, there is no doubt that a lot of hate is being directed at Mormons as a group. But why single out Mormons? And why now?
Dozens of church bodies - including the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Christian bishops of California, and a wide variety of evangelicals - supp orted the proposition. It's also worth considering that, while gay-rights advocates cannot discuss same-sex marriage for more than 30 seconds without making faulty analogies to Jim Crow-era anti-miscegenation laws, some 70 percent of blacks voted for Proposition 8. While there have been a few ugly racist statements by gay-rights supporters, such vile sentiment has been restricted. Not so the hatred directed at Mormons, who are convenient targets.
To date, 30 states have voted on initiatives addressing same-sex marriage, and in every state traditional marriage has come out on top. But somehow the fact that Mormons got involved during the latest statewide referendum constitutes a bridge too far? In truth, Mormons are a target of convenience in the opening salvo of what is sure to be a full-scale assault on much of America's religious infrastructure, which gay activists perceive as a barrier to their aspirations. Among religious groups, Mormons are not the biggest obstacle to same-sex marriage - not by a long shot. But they are an easy target. Anti-Mormon bigotry is unfortunately common, and gay-rights activists are cynically exploiting that fact.
There are no websites dedicated to "outing" Catholics who supported Proposition 8, even though Catholic voters heavily outnumber Mormons. And the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is not remarkably strident in its beliefs on the subject. So far, no gay-rights activist has had the brass to burn a Qu'ran on the doorstep of a militant mosque where - forget marriage. - imams advocate the stoning of homosexuals.
Churches oppose same-sex marriage in part because it represents an implicit threat to freedom of conscience and belief. California already had one of the broadest civil-unions laws in the country. There was little in the way of government-sanctioned privileges that a state-issued marriage license would confer. But the drive for same-sex marriage is in practice about legislating moral conformity - demanding that everybody recognize homosexual relationships in the same way, regardless of their own beliefs. Freedom of conscience, or diversity of belief, is the last thing the homosexual lobby will tolerate: In New Mexico, a state civil-rights commission fined an evangelical wedding photographer $6,637 for politely declining to photograph a gay commitment ceremony. In California, the state Supreme Court ruled unanimously against two San Diego fertility doctors who refused to give in-vitro fertilization to a lesbian owing to their religious beliefs, even though they had referred her to another doctor. And just this week, evangelical dating site eHarmony, which hadn't previously provided same-sex matchmaking services, announced it had been browbeaten into doing so by New Jersey's Division on Civil Rights and the threat of litigation. The first 10,000 same-sex eHarmony registrants will receive a free six-month subscription. "That's one of the things I asked for," crowed Eric McKinley, who brought the charges against eHarmony.
Where do they go from here? Gay activists are already using the legal system to try to revoke the tax-exempt status of the Mormon church. If you believe that churches and synagogues, priests and rabbis won't eventually be sued for their statements on sexuality, you're kidding yourself. Chai Feldblum, a Georgetown University law professor and gay activist who helps draft federal legislation related to sexual orientation, says that, when religious liberty conflicts with gay rights, "I'm having a hard time coming up with any case in which religious liberty should win." A National Public Radio report on the conflict noted that if previous cases are any guide, "the outlook is grim for religious groups."
Given their cavalier disregard for the freedom of conscience, it's little surprise that the gay lobby is equally disdainful of democracy: They began pursuing legal challenges to Proposition 8 practically before they were done tallying the votes. Lamentably, the state attorney general defending the will of the people will be former Jerry Brown, the liberal former governor who was an open opponent of the measure and tried to sabotage it. The legal challenges will be heard by the same state Supreme Court that overturned California's previous law forbi dding gay marriage back in May. There's a real possibility the will of the people will be spurned a second time, democracy be damned. They've already burned the Book of Mormon.
The First Amendment is next.
An article by Rabbi Nachum Shifren
Rabbi Shifren received a Bachelor of Arts degree from UC Santa Barbara in Spanish and German Literature. He continued graduate studies in West Germany at the University of Goettingen. Rabbi Shifren is a language teacher and is fluent in Spanish, German, Hebrew and Yiddish. Rabbi Shifren attended Toras Chayim Yeshiva in Jerusalem and Yeshivat Tomchei Tmimim in Kfar Chabad, Israel, where he received his rabbinical ordination in 1990. He has been featured in People magazine, The Los Angeles Times, The Jerusalem Post, GQ magazine, The Jewish Press, Surfer magazine, The Jerusalem Report, as well as Le Figaro, The Manchester Guardian, Sud-Deutsche Zeitung, and other international media. He has appeared on ABC's Good Morning America, CNN, Phil Donohue, NPR radio, JTN, Fox TV, Deutsche Welle TV, Dutch, Spanish and Canadian National TV, KNX Radio, KBRT, and KFI Los Angeles. He founded Jewish Surfers International and the Surf & Soul newsletter. A movie based on Surfing Rabbi is currently in development. 
WE ALL ARE MORMONS
"We are living in an era of insanity! Witness the latest attempt to remake the nature of our country, founded and established on certain principles that have been the envy of the entire world. The latest assault on our country and its values comes in the form of vicious and criminal violence against the Mormon church in Westwood, California.
"Interesting how the selective self-righteous indignation on the part of the radical Gay activists is played out here: they bewail the blow to freedom and justice! But I thought we just had elections, where the majority of Californians expressed their views in a free and open manner. Are we not a nation of laws? Dare we relive the McCarthy era, where Americans were harassed and threatened with the loss of their jobs for believing in a certain way? If the Gay radicals should have their way, untold numbers of Americans would live under the threat of the Gay-Lesbian "thought police," where individuals that reject the Gay lifestyle would be sought out and have sanctions brought against them.
"It's bad enough for those working in the entertainment industry here in Los Angeles, where a fog of political correctness and a bending over backwards to accommodate, even promote Gay lifestyle is in full gear. Let none dare say that this type of activity is anathema to our country, our morality, and the debauchery of our young people.
"Let it be stated unequivocally: The radical Gay attack on the Mormons is the shot over the bow against the United States of America. There was a time when what a man did in his bedroom was sanctified between himself and G-d. Now we are being served an "in-your-face" smorgasbord of smut and licentiousness as being between people who only "want their civil rights."
"Hogwash! We are dealing with the equivalent of a moral takeover of the country that has as its bedrock a belief in G-d and His promise for humanity. They don't want civil rights! What they desire is quasi Gay/Lesbian hegemony, where a huge "bookburning, " reminiscent of the Nazis, will purge any remnants of the "Christian, White, mainstream America" that has given ALL AMERICANS the most profound scope of freedom, liberty, and justice that Mankind has yet to experience.
"People have perhaps wondered: why the Mormons? Answer: they are a small, yet vocal Christian minority. They have been selected by the mobs as vulnerable, a group that might not have such massive support among America's Christians.
"We who are friends of the Mormons, their patriotism, their family values, will not falter in our continued support of these dear Americans. Let us recall the Christian minister Niemoller, whose admonition during those dark years of Nazi Germany moved us to our core:
"When they came for the gypsies, I said nothing, because I wasn't a gypsy. When they came for the homosexuals, I said nothing, because I wasn't a homosexual. When they came for the Jews, I said nothing, because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for the Catholics, and I said nothing, because I wasn't a Catholic.... ..then they came for me, and there was no one left to defend me."
"My fellow Americans, in the coming battle for the heart and soul of America and everything we cherish, may this call to arms be the mantra of every concerned patriot:
"WE ALL ARE MORMONS!"
Mormon Appreciation Day
The following article is from Christian News Wire, November 4, 2008:
"In response to the truly despicable, bigoted advertisement, Home Invasion, produced to defeat California's Proposition 8, the members of the Ruth Youth proclaim November 5, 2008 to be International Mormon Appreciation Day.
"Whereas: the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are exercising their legal first amendment free speech rights by participating in the political process, rights that are dear to all Americans of all religions.
"Whereas, the advertisement was generated by an "independent" group calling itself Courage Campaign Issues Committee.
"Whereas: the ad has been condemned by representatives of Catholic and Protestant Churches,
"Whereas: the Protect Marriage, Yes on Proposition 8 campaign has called upon the No on 8 campaign to repudiate the ad.
"Whereas: the No on Proposition 8 has been completely silent in the face of this outrageous display of anti-religious bigotry.
"Whereas: the No on 8 Campaign has shown very clearly that they want the exclusive right to define what counts as discrimination and hate.
"Whereas: the campaign to protect natural marriage by passing California’s Proposition 8 has been called the largest grassroots political campaign in history.
"Whereas: attacks on the religious freedom of one group threaten the religious freedom of all religions.
"Whereas: the Ruth Youth is an international, interfaith coalition of youthful souls of all ages who support natural marriage, in law, culture, media and academia.
"Whereas: we are grateful to the members of the LDS Church for their participation in the campaign to protect marriage from being radically redefined by unelected judges.
"Whereas: We are proud to have been part of said campaign, and we are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with the members of the LDS Church.
"Therefore, be it proclaimed:
"We, the members of the Ruth Youth, hereby declare and proclaim November 5, 2008, to be International Mormon Appreciation Day. We hereby express our gratitude toward and solidarity with our LDS brothers and sisters.
"No matter how the election for Proposition 8 turns out, we are grateful to the courageous, dedicated, and always cheerful members of the LDS Church."
Ruth Youth can be found on FACEBOOK or at www.ruthinstitute.org.
A California Catholic Bishop's Response
SACRAMENTO 7 November 2008 (This news release was issued by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento) The following statement was released today by Bishop William Weigand, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento and former Bishop of Salt Lake City, in response to attacks on (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) for supporting California’s Proposition 8, defending the traditional definition of marriage:
“Catholics stand in solidarity with our Mormon brothers and sisters in support of traditional marriage — the union of one man and one woman — that has been the major building block of Western Civilization for millennia.
“The ProtectMarriage coalition, which led the successful campaign to pass Proposition 8, was an historic alliance of people from every faith and ethnicity. LDS were included — but so were Catholics and Jews, Evangelicals and Orthodox, African-Americans and Latinos, Asians and Anglos.
“Bigoted attacks on Mormons for the part they played in our coalition are shameful and ignore the reality that Mormon voters were only a small part of the groundswell that supported Proposition 8.
“As the former bishop of the Diocese of Salt Lake City, I can attest to the fact that followers of the Mormon faith are a good and generous people with a long history of commitment to family and giving to community causes.
“I personally decry the bigotry recently exhibited towards the members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — coming from the opponents of Proposition 8, who ironically, have called those of us supporting traditional marriage intolerant.
“I call upon the supporters of same-sex marriage to live by their own words — and to refrain from discrimination against religion and to exercise tolerance for those who differ from them. I call upon them to accept the will of the people of California in the passage of Proposition 8.”
An Ugly Attack on Mormons
The religious group has been the target of a campaign by liberal supporters of same-sex marriage.
- BY Jonah Goldberg
- December 2, 2008, Los Angeles Times
"Did you catch the political ad in which two Jews ring the doorbell of a nice, working-class family? They barge in and rifle through the wife's purse and then the man's wallet for any cash. Cackling, they smash the daughter's piggy bank and pinch every penny. "We need it for the Wall Street bailout!" they exclaim.
"No? Maybe you saw the one with the two swarthy Muslims who knock on the door of a nice Jewish family and then blow themselves up?
"No? Well, then surely you saw the TV ad in which two smarmy Mormon missionaries knock on the door of an attractive lesbian couple. "Hi, we're from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!" says the blond one with a toothy smile. "We're here to take away your rights." The Mormon zealots yank the couple's wedding rings from their fingers and then tear up their marriage license.
"As the thugs leave, one says to the other, "That was too easy." His smirking comrade replies, "Yeah, what should we ban next?" The voice-over implores viewers: "Say no to a church taking over your government."
"Obviously, the first two ads are fictional because no one would dare run such anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim attacks.
"The third ad, however, was real. It was broadcast throughout California on election day as part of the effort to rally opposition to Proposition 8, the initiative that successfully repealed the right to same-sex marriage in the state.
"What was the reaction to the ad? Widespread condemnation? Scorn? Rebuke? Tepid criticism?
"This newspaper, a principled opponent of Proposition 8, ran an editorial saying that the "hard-hitting ad" was too little, too late.
"The upshot seemed to be that if the pro-gay-marriage forces had just flooded the airwaves with more religious slander, things would have turned out better.
"At a pro-gay-marriage rally in Los Angeles after the vote, chants of "Mormon scum!" were reported. Envelopes containing white powder have been sent to Mormon temples in California and Utah; vandals hit other temples. Lists of businesses to boycott -- essentially Mormon blacklists -- have sprung up on the Internet. The artistic director of the California Musical Theatre resigned because of pressure after it was revealed he gave $1,000 to a pro-Proposition 8 group.
"It's amazing. Hollywood liberals, who shout "McCarthyism!" as a first resort, see nothing wrong with this. If Jews were attacked in this way for giving too much money to a political cause, Barbra Streisand would already have a French passport.
"Never mind that Proposition 8 carried nearly every demographic slice of voters. Put aside the fact that the Catholic Church and scores of other Christian churches supported it too. Discount the inconvenient truth that bans on gay marriage have now passed in 30 states. It's all the Mormons' fault.
"The argument is that Mormons used illegitimate power, in this case money, beyond their numerical standing in the population to secure victory for the measure. Golly, wealthy gay liberals would never do anything like that! I bet they're not giving a dime to the legal effort to overturn Proposition 8.
"No, it's just that Mormons are the most vulnerable of the culturally conservative religious denominations and therefore the easiest targets for an organized campaign against religious freedom of conscience.
"Traditional religion is the enemy anywhere it runs afoul of complete social acceptance of homosexuality. In New Mexico, a wedding photographer was fined nearly $7,000 for refusing to shoot a gay commitment ceremony. The dating site eHarmony, run by evangelicals, was just bullied by gay activists via the New Jersey Division on Civil Rights into starting up a site for gays. The first 10,000 registrants must get six months free.
"It's often lost on gay-rights groups that they and their allies are the aggressors in the culture war. Indeed, they admit to being the "forces of change" and the "agents of progress." They proudly want to rewrite tradition and overturn laws. But whenever they're challenged democratically and peaceably, they instantly complain of being victims of entrenched bigots, even as they adopt the very tactics they abhor.
"My own view is that gay marriage is likely inevitable, and won't be nearly the disaster many of my fellow conservatives fear it will be. But the scorched-earth campaign to victory pushed by gay-marriage advocates may well be disastrous, and "liberals" should be ashamed for countenancing it." 
LDS Church's Response to New York Times Ad
- Prop 8 Backlash Is “An Outrage That Must Stop,” Group Says in Support of Church
SALT LAKE CITY 5 December 2008 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expressed appreciation today for a full-page advertisement in The New York Times that decries the “violence and intimidation” directed toward the Church because of its support of Proposition 8.
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints expresses its gratitude to the signatories of the full-page advertisement that appeared today in the New York Times. This was a thoughtful and generous gesture at a time when the right of free expression of people of faith has come under attack. We join with those of all religious faiths and political persuasions who have called for reasoned and civil discourse on matters that affect our nation.”
The ad was sponsored by The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and was signed by scholars, dignitaries and religious leaders from a variety of faiths.
“Religious groups can’t claim some sort of special immunity from criticism,” the advertisement stated. “Nevertheless, there’s a world of difference between legitimate political give-and-take and violent attempts to cow your opponents into submission. Violence and intimidation are always wrong, whether the victims are believers, gay people, or anyone else.”
The statement in the ad continued: “Participating in ballot initiatives is legally different from politicking for candidates. It is perfectly lawful for charities, including religious ones. It is perfectly appropriate as well that all voices be heard.”
The statement by the group also called for others to add their names to the letter  and concluded with a declaration of unified support:
“Therefore, despite our fundamental disagreements with one another, we announce today that we will stand shoulder to shoulder to defend any house of worship — Jewish, Christian, Hindu, whatever — from violence, regardless of the cause that violence seeks to serve.”
LDS Church's Response to the Ruling that Prop 8 is Unconstitutional
On August 4, 2010, Judge Walker ruled that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. This is the Church's response:
- "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which urged its top leaders to in California congregations top ask members to vote for Proposition 8, issued a statement on the ruling Wednesday, saying it "regrets today's decision."
- "California voters have twice been given the opportunity to vote on the definition of marriage in their state and both times have determined that marriage should be recognized as only between a man and a woman," spokesman Michael Purdy said. "We agree. Marriage between a man and woman is the bedrock of society.
- "We recognize that this decision represents only the opening of a vigorous debate in the courts over the rights of the people to define and protect this most fundamental institution — marriage."
- "The Catholic church also criticized the ruling." 
The Prop 8 Appeals Process
California’s Proposition 8 was declared unconstitutional by Judge Vaughn Walker and overturned. Appeals were immediately filed by supporters of Proposition 8, and three judges of the Federal Ninth District Court were randomly selected to hear these appeals beginning on December 6, 2010. These three judges are a diverse group:
- Judge Michael Daly Hawkins — Born on February 12, 1945, in Winslow, Arizona, Judge Hawkins earned a BA from Arizona State University in 1967, and a JD from Arizona State University in 1970. He also earned a Masters in Law degree from the University of Virginia in 1998. He was appointed Special Court Martial Military Judge in 197e, United States Attorney for Arizona from 1977 through 1981, and Special Prosecutor for The Navajo Nation from 1985 through 1989. He was in private practice in Arizona, 1973 – 1977, and 1980 – 1994. He was appointed to the Ninth Circuit in 1994. Judge Hawkins has been described by the press as a “moderate Democrat." He was appointed by President Bill Clinton.
- Judge Stephen Reinhardt — Judge Reinhardt was born on March 27, 1931, in New York City, New York. He graduated from Pomona College in 1951 and earned his JD at Yale in 1954. Judge Reinhardt worked for the United States Air Force General Counsel’s Office from 1954-56, and was in private practice with O’Melveny & Myers (1958-59), and with Fogel, Julber, Reinhardt, Rothschild & Feldman (1959-). Judge Reinhardt has been described by the press as the ”liberal badboy of the federal judiciary.” Judge Reinhardt was appointed to the Ninth District Court by President Jimmy Carter in 1980.
- Judge N. Randy Smith — Judge Smith attended Brigham Young University, where he received his B.S. degree in 1974 and his J.D. in 1977. He lives in Idaho, and was appointed by President George W. Bush. Smith was Idaho Republican Chairman, and sat on the Sixth District Court in Pocatello. There is already controversy over Judge Smith’s religion — he is a Mormon — just as there was controversy regarding Judge Walker’s sexual orientation. (He is reputed to be gay, though he has never admited this.) Both judges, however, are sworn to consider constitutionality, and not religious or sexual orientation in their judgments.
The December 6th hearing will be held in the 9th Circuit’s courthouse at Seventh and Mission streets and broadcast on C-SPAN.
Proposition 8 proponents requested that Judge Reinhardt recuse himself from hearing the case. Reinhardt is married to Ramona Ripston, the long-time Executive Director of the ACLU of Southern California, who is “responsible for all phases of the organization’s programs, including litigation, lobbying and education.” Under her leadership, the ACLU/SC has lead the charge in what it calls “the fight to end marriage discrimination” in California. In this very litigation that is before the Ninth Circuit, ACLU/SC has taken an active role. 
Judge Reinhardt refused to recuse himself, stating that he is quite able to judge impartially in the case.
- The Church's response to gay civil rights legislation in Utah
- Prop 8 Aftermath
- In defense of Prop 8 from the Wall Street Journal
- Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles discusses religious freedom in light of the backlash against Mormons.
- LDS Church's Statement Regarding FPPC Settlement
- LA Times releases surviellance video of suspected arson at LA Mormon Temple, May, 2010